In November 2010, the Hackney Gladies played their first ever game of rugby for the club against Millwall where we emerged victorious. On Saturday, it was a chance for Hackney to return to Millwall grounds and demonstrate that we were not a one hit wonder on their turf and impress them with the growth in numbers and ability that has seen the Gladies enter the league and play some top rugby.

The game kicked off with Hackney receiving and running against the wind. Hackney retained possession of the ball confidently with Anna Sereni driving the ball strongly and our forwards supporting in similar determined fashion. Our first try came from fly half Charley Miller who kicked beautifully for Genevieve Barr at fullback to chase down and score. Our second try came moments later from Sereni driving powerfully over the line.

We didn't get cocky however, coach Morgan Whitlock reminding players to keep their focus and momentum. Millwall were rucking strongly and we were struggling to retain possession. Both Jess Cobb and Sarah Lawrence did a great job of pinning their large pack down and preventing them from powering forward. We were patient because we knew the tries would come. Felicity Auer in her debut as scrum half did a great job of getting the ball out of the ruck to Miller. Miller with a misspass freed Sophie Campbell down the wing; deviously tricky to stop, Campbell zig zagged through numerous flailing arms before scoring our third try under the posts. Five minutes later, she decided it was so much fun she would do it again.

It is misrepresentative to say that everything was simply going our way. It wasnt. There was a lot of loose ball to our chagrin and the battle between the forwards was fierce. Flankers Lydia Meeson and Helen Doig, normally backs, were able to utilise their speed and aggression to full glory in these positions and prevented many a ball spreading too far along their back line. The half time ended with a penalty well earnt by our forwards with Miller quickly tapping it into touch and powering over the line.

Half time saw even more players out of position as winger Josie Dietrich moving into flank. The half time talk had been about focussing on driving the ball forward before moving it out wide. This was essential to create the space for our backs and something we have been working hard towards in training.

The second half began with sweeping rugby from one end of the pitch to the other. Auer saw an opportunity to offload quick ball to Barr who scored down the wing again. Then the pressure began, where we found ourselves in our own 22 trying to win back possession. Kat Barber at 8, has shown some great skill in giving relief to the scrum half and securing the ball in murky conditions, and she demonstrated this on Saturday by finding some space and popping it to Campbell who ran three quarters of the pitch for her 3rd try.

The third try of the second half came soon after from Miller, with a perfect executed blind side move off the scrum, finding a gap by forcing her opponents out wide with a dummy pass. Her third try of the game came from a loose ball in the scrum. Miller, used to being an interfering number 9 spotted the loose ball, kicked it forward and dived on it to score our last try of the game.

It's hard to describe this game without it sounding like a series of numerous tries, which actually in essence, is what rugby is. Millwall created a lot of trouble for us, powering over rucks and it's fair to say that they won the rucking battle hands down. Something which we will continue to work on. However our forwards when in possession were hard working and powerful and their efforts helped free the backs to play their favoured game of quick rugby.

There were a few close to earning man of the match, particularly props Cobb and Bjovig who worked incredibly hard for a full 70 minutes and gave much experience and example to the less accustomed forwards. Auer played a very impressive game at 9 for her first attempt, and there were numerous hattricks by other players which probably shouldn't go unmentioned.

But man of the match goes to Anna Sereni in her first time at 12. She drove powerful lines, tackled like a demon and moved us forward every single time she got the ball.

Finally a big thank you to Mica Evans, 18 years old Saracens prop and England U20 player who is now heading off to France to play for her country. She joined us on Saturday, and played 30 minutes whilst recovering from injury and it was an inspiration to have such a young but talented player with us.

We look forward to playing our next game against Hampstead at home on the 25th of March.